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Raffarin speaks up for EU referendum By John Lichfield 10 October 2003
The French Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, has spoken strongly in favour of a referendum on the proposed new European Union constitution, increasing pressure on Tony Blair to put the text to a popular vote in Britain.
But M. Raffarin said it would be "an enormous risk" to hold a referendum in France at a time of gathering Euroscepticism. He said it would be equally dangerous to push through "on the quiet" changes in the way the EU is governed. If the constitution was agreed by a vote of both houses of Parliament, as the constitution allows, it would increase the sense that Europe had been "confiscated by the elites", he said.
His comments, during a trip to Russia, were reported yesterday and were intended to increase pressure on President Jacques Chirac, on whom the decision on a referendum rests.
M. Raffarin's arguments will be used by pro-referendum voices in the UK to put pressure on Mr Blair.
Blair doesnt want a referendum until he knows what result he wants... At the moment we are hedging our bets. Siding with the dollar until the Euro is the better option. America dont want to see the Euro strengthened by the pound but as soon as thats the best option for us we will join. At the moment its to early to say which option suits us best. Its all a matter of timing.
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